Western Michigan University NIGHTLIFE Review, Part III: The Library

“Hey brah, where ya’ headed”?!

“The Library, man”!

“But, brah! It’s Totally Trashed Tuesdays, and we just brewed up 40 wasabi-gerbil anus burners to celebrate Steve’s dad’s vasectomy”!

“Nah dude! Not that library, the other Library”!!

“WHOAAAA”!!

*group laugh*
I’m certain the preceding dialogue accurately narrates what went through a geezer bar owner’s head moments before he decided what to rechristen the smoldering remains of the former Firehouse. Great business sense there, really. There’s nothing like a silly gimmick that patronizes your patrons. 
THE SCENE
Library is like a compact version of Wayside: it’s got a classic beer-and-wings sports bar vibe with hardwood floors, booths, and low-hanging ceiling lights, but also services the inclinations of Saturday night’s drunk, horny freaks with its dungeon of a dance floor. The contrast between the bar concourse and the dark abyss nearby emanating dubstep thumps is probably similar to the defining line between purgatory and the first level of Hell. Upon walking into Library, it may come as a surprise that the interior is fully-lit, and that idiosyncrasy is its distinguishing factor when you compare it with other W. Michigan Ave bars like Y-Bar or Grotto. You can actually see people, which I think explains why the venue is so prone to turning into staging ground for fisticuffs and multi-party brawls. Affording drunk dudes the opportunity to make incidental eye contact (“You lookin’ at me, bro”?) is akin to lighting a match in a closet packed with buffalo farts.
I’ve laid witness to a diverse array of battles at Library; some of which have the potential to one day be re-enacted on the History Channel or, at the very least, serve as inspirational fodder for a match on Monday Night Raw. Library has been host to race wars, bloody stomp-outs, and the instance where I saw a recently knocked-the-fuck-out kid slump face-first into bathroom piss-water. Not that these scenarios reflect positively upon the establishment, but I’d expect a little more class out of a venue that charges me a whole two dollars for cover.
Speaking of which, it’s an unnecessary hassle just to get through the door on Saturday night: two photo ID’s and two dollars. Do you know how long I’ve got to rummage in my pockets to get all of that? For a place that services a fucking “teen night,” why are they so paranoid about underaged rascals sneaking in with fake ID’s? Oh, I figured it out: the ID check is actually about making sure you’re in college. Like Y-Bar, they’ve concluded that restricting their clientele to college students is the optimal business model, as we are more docile and have a vast pool of financial aid money to blow.
While I’ve got my reservations about the entrance policy, I will admit that it really does influence the crowd that shows up. It’s the same social cohort that Y-Bar lures in, except guys have exchanged muscle-shirts for plaid and girls don jeans instead of skirts. Expect a male: female ratio of about 1.5 guys for every girl, which is a technical sausagefest but decent for Kalamazoo.
On a brighter note, at least the girls who go to Library on Saturdays are attractive.
SERVICE

Library is notorious for understaffing to pinch pennies. Even with four full-size bars, getting a drink takes ages unless you opt to hit up the “cash-only” bar, which would be more aptly named the “tax-exempt” bar. However, only geeks and tools whose parents still check their banking statements carry cash, so I too often find myself waiting for drinks for about as long as it would take a sumo wrestler to finish a marathon. Would it really kill them to staff one more bartender at each bar?
That said, the bartenders are amicable enough when you finally reach them, even though they serve up rail liquor swill with a misplaced sense of pride that I don’t quite understand. To contrast, I actually get asked whether I want Jameson or Jack when I order at Y-Bar (if it’s early in the night).
MUSIC

Library’s bar concourse (the lit area), doesn’t have music, which I like because you can actually socialize. The dance floor, on the other hand, is an alternate dimension where half-priced drinks and a mix of top-40, dubstep, and old “classics” have hypnotized clientele into flail-humping sex-zombies. I will admit that I don’t spend much time on Library’s dance floor so I’m not going to pass judgment on the DJ’s music selection.
PRICES

Saturday: half-off drinks. Beers are $2, a double-shot is $4. Unfortunately, the deal ends at midnight which, once again, highlights the miserly nature of the establishment. 
FINAL NOTES

I would say that Library rivals Y-Bar as the top nightspot on W. Michigan Ave if it weren’t for the profound level of penny-pinching that has ruined service there. That said, Saturday nights boasts a cool crowd, so I’d recommend it as that night’s place to be.
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Kalamazoo Cockblocking

An unfortunate part of female social conditioning (in America, at least), is that many college-aged girls feel that they possess the imperative to vociferously cockblock any and all guys that their friend might even consider fucking when they go out. Girls in Kalamazoo do it with impunity and always with a hilariously corny bitch-flair (“Nice try,”) that tempts you to call her out on the fifteen extra lbs of cottage cheese teetering on her waistline.

Before I begin this discussion, I’m going to define what a cockblock is and isn’t:

NOT a cockblock: Girl you’re talking to is obviously uninterested in your shitty “game” and/or disheveled appearance. Friend or another male suitor swoop in to “save” (relieve) her of you.

COCKBLOCK | verb /käk-bläk/: 

1. When a jealous or misguided female makes a forcible attempt at extracting another female from an interaction with a male suitor that the friend is interested in.

2. When a jealous and/or opportunistic dude interjects himself, uninvited, into an interaction between a guy and a girl, where the girl is obviously interested in the guy she’s talking to. His intention is to divert the focus of the girl from the other guy and onto himself.

In general, there are three main types of cockblockers, which I will list in no particular order:

Cockblocker Type 1: Reformed Slut Rita
Rita had daddy issues growing up and little self control. Upon arriving in college as a lithe, naive freshman at the ripe age of 17, she used her newfound freedom the best way she knew how: fucking anything that moved.

Rita quickly realized that, in the real world, actions carry consequences. The squandering of her social capital as a result of slutting out the first semester of college left her at the fringes or excommunicated by the Welcome Week social circles she was a part of. Back home, she became known as the high school virgin who went on to participate in a 5-man gangbang with a bukkake finish in the third week of school. In Kalamazoo, she’s known as just another chick who got fucked by five dudes at the same time.

By the time she turns 21, the ass-reaming she committed on her reputation (and the ass-reaming committed on her) has become a bygone memory. All that’s left now is scar tissue, extreme paranoia, and occasional bouts of irrational behavior. Rita now has new circle of friends within which she has unilaterally assigned herself as the resident mother-hen because she believes being a fuck-up qualifies one to give advice. To “repent” for her past, she assumes the mantle of Pussy Police, relentlessly cockblocking any guy that comes within a five foot radius of her friends.

How to handle: Buy her shots until drunkedness brings down the ramparts of her maternal facade and the slut within is unleashed. She will eventually skip off to find the guy she saw once in lecture in Psych 101 to “catch up.” More experienced Ritas have already relapsed one or two times back into slut-mode and will require craftier measures to neutralize.

Cockblocker Type 2: Unattractive Ursula
Ursula is the opposite of Rita in that she has spent her first couple years of college with few or no sexual experiences. This is not because she possesses self-respect or discipline, but because she resembles the aftermath of that time Satan got wasted and accidentally fucked a wild boar in the fourth level of Hell. Ursula descends from an affluent, probably east side, family and is thus an entitled brat who thinks she deserves a decent-looking guy even though she clocked in precisely 4 hours in the gym all year, 3.5 of which were dedicated to flipping back and forth through her iPhone.

Her entitlement also means that she will not accept any of her friends attaining what she cannot, namely a decent guy. Because Ursula is probably a virgin, the “slut” label she can slap onto her friends sticks like industrial-strength adhesive.

How to handle: Give her attention. Ursula wants to feel as pretty as her hot friend, so engage her as much as you do the girl you want to fuck. Gradually withdraw attention from Ursula until you can finally communicate with the hot friend in peace. That said, Ursula will eventually catch on and cockblock you anyway.

Cockblocker Type 3: Scavenger Steve
This is probably the shittiest Kalamazoo cockblocker because any moral pretense is thrown out the window. Ursula and Rita can at least claim that they’re saving their friend from an imminent hit’n quit, but Steve is trying to, in Jersey Shore vernacular, “commit a robbery.” Fortunately, Steve is usually the most scarce of Team Blocker’s line-up, but you ought to beware of him nonetheless.

Steve is often socially awkward and/or physically unappealing, factors which compound his difficulty in starting conversations with girls. To compensate, he waits for somebody to do the work for him then drops into the conversation uninvited. Unfortunately, Steve is usually a guy you came to the bar with, although a random, feral Steve might also appear on occasion. Steve always has an amazing story to tell that’s sort of like the one he just overheard you talking about for the past five minutes, but three times better and it took place on Mars.

How to handle: Be a dick. Don’t even let him into the conversation. Just ignore the bugger and he’ll give up and go away. Yeah, it’s that simple. If he’s persistent, tell him, like a boss, to take a hike.

The sad truth…


There is no efficient way to dispose of a cockblocker. Like any bad behavior, it needs to be shamed in order for it to stop. The only way to do this is by calling cockblockers out, especially Rita and Ursula. How you choose to do that is up to you, but I can assure you that if you call out one cockblocker she’s going to think twice before doing it again. Maybe you won’t reap the benefits, but another guy probably will.  Think of it this way: if all guys everywhere unite to end cockblocking as we know it, we could experience a sexual renaissance in this city unlike anywhere else in America.

"I’m from the East Side"

I’m taking a break from my venue reviews to address a conversational thread that’s pulled nearly every single time I meet a new group of people at a Kalamazoo night spot. I’ll walk you through it:

Me: “…and then she told me to stop.”

Kid in plaid shirt: “Haha, I’ve, like, totally been there man, totally. Yeah, man, so where you from”?

Me: “Kalamazoo.”

KIPS: “Oh, yeah, that’s cool.”

*awkward silence*

Me: “You”?

KIPS: “Aw, I’m just from the East Side.”

Without fail, that woefully misplaced arrogance, by an unfortunately dressed dweeb, no less, lingers in the air like a taco-inspired meat fart. I usually end the conversation shortly thereafter. I’m not saying that every conversation I have with an east sider plays out like it does above, but it happens often enough for me to notice a pattern (and warrant a blog post). When I give you the courtesy of telling you the town I hail from, it’s only proper that you reciprocate. I know social skills aren’t everybody’s forte, but try to understand that your ambiguity is condescending and implies that I can’t point out Ann Arbor or Birming-fucking-ham on a Michigan map.

Maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe it’s just that the east siders have learned from years of trial-and-error with legions of geographically-impaired west side yokels that they’re better off just keeping it basic.

So I believe we have reached an impasse: is it east side arrogance or west side boorishness that’s behind the tired routine I find myself in night after night? Either way, I don’t give a damn, just say where you’re from, okay?

Western Michigan University NIGHTLIFE Review, Part II: The Y-Bar

I’m not sure what the “Y” in Y-Bar stands for, nor do I possess a burning desire to uncover the truth behind the enigmatic letter, so feel free to come up with your own theories. The ironic thing is that the venue is not really a bar, but a dance club, so the owner(s) should consider a name-change.

THE SCENE


I would say Y-Bar is easily the most loved and hated venue in Kalamazoo. The borderline ostentatious nature of the neon decor and its sexualized clientele will obviously arouse emotions of (self)loathing in reticent, sexually-undesirable geeks and affection in those who thrive on peacocking their physical wares and trying their hand at fucking the hottest thing moving that night. In my time in Kalamazoo, I’ve heard many dubious descriptions about the place, usually from people who’ve never actually set foot in it. One kid called it “for the fags,” another claimed that “it’s for fucking pussies,” and one other guy tried to tell me that the Thursday-night alcohol-powered shitshow was “nothing but douche-queers and sluts.” Okay, I can understand the animus towards the douches but, c’mon, there is absolutely nothing wrong with women who prefer their legs at obtuse angles.

Personally, I would describe Y-bar as the lovechild of a big-city club that accidentally dumped its load in an abandoned Midwestern warehouse one fateful, Molly-addled night. Y-Bar is the most honest place in Kalamazoo because you have the kids that actually run the Kalamazoo bar circuit presenting who they really are: upper-middle class kids from “the East Side,” Chicago, or some faraway country like Arabia Land or Domincanica. This place is about high-heels, muscle V-necks, short dresses, and button-down (non-plaid) shirts. I’m not saying that this is the club of America’s 1%, but it’s definitely a place for the 5-10%.

Of course, ensuring that the bar stays 5% means that the owners have had to apply a few preventative measures to ensure that the “undesirables” stay the fuck away. Over the summer, a common grievance among many of Y-Bar’s patrons was that the bar had gotten “too ghetto,” which is, of course, code-name for the fact that there were:

a. Too many black people
b. Too many poor people
c. Too many people who are both black and poor

Y-Bar’s management, ever receptive to their clientele’s sensitivities (something Grotto ought to take note of), instituted a couple of reforms to ensure Kalamazoo’s vagrants and vagabonds stayed on their side of town, namely:

1. Instituting an exorbitant $15 cover charge for anybody without a college ID, $5 for people with non-Western (read: community college) ID’s, and…

2. Raising their prices. The “drink special” night at Y-Bar isn’t really a night of drink specials, and they’ve sneakily raised the price on every drink by fifty whole cents in the past couple of weeks. It’s almost cheaper to bring your own coke into the bathroom and shoot a few bumps.

Basically if you can’t afford college (or afford to go into debt for it), you’re too poor for Y-Bar. Stay the fuck away. I mean, I do understand the problem with allowing chumps with shitty neck tattoos who sell brick weed out of their grandma’s house to enter a “classy” place like Y-Bar to lasciviously stare down (rightfully) frightened sluts but, hey, maybe there’s a really sweet poor, black kid out there who’s ready to make some rich white girl’s dreams come true. *cough*

Thursday at Y-Bar is, quite literally, the best place to get laid in a Kalamazoo venue that doesn’t start with “Deja” and end with “Vu”. It has its off-weeks but, when it’s on, it’s on. You won’t find the sheer quantity of horny, attractive women within Y-Bar’s walls anywhere else in the city, and it’s one of the only places that can actually boast about not being a total cockfest (most of the time). My personal record for achieving a Y-Bar hook-up (with a stranger) is roughly 45 minutes from the moment I walked up to her to the moment my un-lubed meatrocket was at the precipice of her gaping love-funnel. My companions have accomplished insta-hookups at Y-Bar in similar times, so I believe I possess statistically significant data that verifies the thesis of this paragraph.

SERVICE


I have nothing bad to say about Y-Bar’s service. It smells normal and the staff are amicable enough for me to feel like I’m not walking into a warzone. The bouncers take their jobs a little more seriously than the dudes at Grotto, as they’re really strict on the driver’s license/college ID presentation combo at the door, but I’ve still gotten to cut some pretty epic lines just for knowing them. They’re also really protective about the venue: I once saw them manhandle some kid WWE-style who tried to destroy the tiki torches they light in the summer months. One bouncer put the poor kid in the Boston Crab position and demanded he tap out before allowing him to leave the premises.

The bartenders are all female, with the exception of maybe one guy on certain nights. That said, they’re excellent. No shitty attitudes, they’re all attractive, and you can tell that they actually care about doing a good job. I credit the manager for this one, because it’s clear that he’s adamant about running a quality place. Even on a busy night, the bartenders will have a drink for you in no less than three or four minutes, which is saying a lot given the sheer number of bodies that crowd around certain sections of the bar.

If you’re a douche, Malaysian, or a boss, there’s bottle service available. However, the only people I’ve ever seen take advantage of it are douches and Malaysians, so it’s probably not even worth it unless you’re keen on making clear your 5% status and cannot be seen waiting at bars for drinks like the rest of the peasantry.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to the space heater that the Y-Bar management set up in the smoking section. I like an establishment that gives a damn about whether or not I hypothermiate when I wear a V-neck muscle shirt in February.

MUSIC


Y-Bar actually gets a DJ, which means that their music is as good as it’s going to get in West Michigan unless they decide to import Tiesto. I’ve even heard a few of the DJ’s sneak in some underground shit every once in a while, and I like that. That aside, expect to hear a weird mish-mash of remixed hip-hop tracks with an occasional shitty song or two by Enrique Iglesias or Chris Brown to make sure the playlist isn’t too masculine.

The dance floor will be invariably packed on Thursday and is usually pretty full on Fridays. It takes up roughly half of the club’s square-footage and also includes a stage for you to dance on if you’re an attention whore. If your internet connection is on the fritz at home, you can always come to Y-Bar’s dance floor Thursday night to sear some quality, live softcore porn into the back of your retinas before going home to rub one out. It’s better than nothing.

PRICES


The shittiest prices in Kalamazoo, by far. Like I’ve said before, their main special night (Thursday) isn’t even a special night. It’s $3.50 per drink which is actually more expensive than the $3 that Grotto charges on the same day. You really gotta buy that 5% status, guys!

Western Michigan University NIGHTLIFE Review, Part I: The Grotto at Capone’s

To christen this blog, I’m going to begin with a review of every bar in the Kalamazoo drink-special circuit. I’ll start things off big by giving an overview and my opinions on the bar known for its Friday night shindiggery, relatively relaxed atmosphere, and colloquially referred to by WMU students as “Grotto.”

THE SCENE


The name and decor of this bar is an obvious homage to Prohibition-era gangster Al Capone. The inside features a large photographic portrait of his likeness in addition to fake Tommy guns on the walls behind the upstairs bar but, other than those gaudy toys, the theme stops there. I’m not sure if the understated theme is a result of the owners thinking a more pronounced vibe would be too cheesy or because they just lack creativity but, hell, what’s wrong with having themed nights commemorating a massacre or two?

You won’t find gangsters inside. Instead, you’ve got a crowd of early 20-somethings with a few fake-ID holders here and there. Legal age or not, they’re all there for cheap beers. Beyond that profile, it’s pointless to try and describe the typical guy or gal who stumbles into Grotto on Friday nights. You’ve got listless burnouts donning wrinkled plaid shirts standing alongside turbo-douches in Armani Exchange V-neck muscle tees. You’ve got your faux-hipster dress-like-I-live-in-my-grandma’s-closet chicks exchanging bitchy glances with effeminate, doe-eyed beauties in high-heels and body-hugging short skirts. It’s not trashy and it’s not classy. It’s not ugly, either. Ugly kids don’t seem to go out in Kalamazoo.

SERVICE


Other than the fact that the downstairs area smells like shit (literally) and the fruit fly infestation, there’s not too much to complain about with Grotto’s service. The place has the coolest bouncers, by far, of any bar in Kalamazoo. Get to know them and they will allow you to cut epic lines and some of them might even allow you to start violent brawls with kids you don’t like. I had the privilege or observing an instance where a dogfuck-wasted kid on Thanksgiving Eve passed out in the middle of the basement and shit himself (you could smell it). The bouncers sauntered over and lifted him up by his armpits but instinctively dropped him as soon as the stench of feces assaulted their nostrils. They made his friends carry him out. I like bouncers with dignity.

Grotto employs the most male bartenders of any bar on campus. I’d estimate that it’s a 60-40 split between male and female workers–a good thing. The female bartenders (with the exception of one), are invariably shitty at their jobs. The shittiness stems from a mix of bitchiness, cuntiness, and all-around depraved attention-whoring behavior. I’ve seen one cunt-bartender throw limes at some kid for no reason, then laugh at him while he looked on with a “WTF, man” face. Another ignored people at the bar for a good five minutes on a busy night while she talked to some douche-clown in a white suit and matching fedora, looking like he found the genie from Aladdin and spent all three wishes on transforming into 1980s John Travolta.

MUSIC

By far the most horrendous playlist of any bar in Kalamazoo. Grotto actually uses a fucking jukebox so that even a whack-ass blonde with cystic acne and a Hollister sweatshirt can opt to blare 8-month-old Britney Spears singles through the speakers on Friday nights. Get a fucking DJ, please. At least on the big nights.

The decision on whether or not they should make room for a dance floor is up for debate. The place goes for a loungey, We’re-Not-Y-Bar type vibe, so they take up half their allotted square footage with pool tables. Personally, I think billiards is for douches and dads. Others might have differing opinions, but I ask you this: when was the last time something even remotely interesting happened at a pool table? I rest my case.

PRICES


Drinks in Kalamazoo student bars are all roughly the same price, with beer bottles and mixed drinks numbering around 3 dollars on non-special nights. Grotto has specials on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.

Tuesday: $3 U-Call-Its. Generally a sparse crowd during the school year but, for some reason, is always packed in the summer on this night. I don’t know how to explain that demographic phenomenon other than the fact that Kalamazoo is fucking bizarro land. If you want the most bang for your buck, get a tall beer. Double liquor drinks count as two drinks, so you’re paying $6 for a double. Dumb.

Friday: $1 Pabst, $1 Rolling Rock. Rolling Rock is served in small plastic cups, PBR is in bottles, I’ll let you guys figure out which one is the better deal so that the people who pick wrong will expedite evolution by going broke, filing bankruptcy, and getting their roadside cardboard shacks run over by a meth-addled truck driver while they sleep. This is the biggest night for Grotto of the week, almost always packed, although usually a sausagefest.

Saturday: $2.50 U-Call-Its. They’re trying desperately to compete with Library. It doesn’t seem to be working, as Library is always more packed on Saturday. Sausagefest. Don’t go if you’re a guy. Go if you’re a girl who’s into getting gang-banged by former high school hockey players wearing plaid.

FINAL NOTES


I’m not going to give a numerical rating or ranking for any of my reviews, because I don’t want to lay out promotional fodder for geezer bar owners without getting paid for it. That said, Grotto’s not a bad place, but it leaves much to be desired. Go on Fridays if the queue doesn’t resemble a Soviet-era breadline or on Tuesdays if you’ve got nothing to do and want to hang out with a few friends.